The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today published the Animal Welfare Service Delivery Statistics Bulletin 2017.
Head of Animal Health and Welfare policy in DAERA, Jackie Robinson said: “This is the second annual report to be published by the Department which continues to highlight the issue of animal welfare and demonstrates the work undertaken by the three enforcement bodies: DAERA; local councils; and the PSNI in 2017.
“It indicates that DAERA received fewer complaints in 2017 than it had in the previous year, while local councils and the PSNI received more complaints (councils saw an increase of 2% while PSNI saw an increase of 65%).”
The number of complaints is reflected in the follow-up action taken such as an increase in: the number of visits carried out; seizures (and voluntary sign-overs) of animals; and prosecutions commenced. The report also indicates that all three enforcement bodies did not hesitate to progress animal welfare cases or to take action to deal with offences committed.
Jackie Robinson added: “Obviously, prevention is better than cure when it comes to the mistreatment of animals, and the vast majority of owners and keepers comply with their duty of care. However, these figures show that, when animal welfare cases arise, enforcement bodies will investigate and impose penalties where appropriate, and do so in partnership with the wider authorities.”
Patricia Allen, Chair of the Local Government Animal Welfare Project Board, said: “Councils give a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and horses, and operate a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.
“Although the increase in the total of complaints received from the previous year was relatively small, there were 9,189 inspections carried out during 2017 and over 2,400 animals were assessed by council animal welfare officers.
“Faced with this level of activity, councils have utilised the full range of enforcement options to achieve the best outcomes, including where appropriate, prosecutions and disqualification from keeping animals.”
Superintendent Brian Kee, the service lead for rural and wildlife crime in the PSNI, said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland continues to take the responsibility for criminal activity with links to animal welfare seriously.
“There has been an increase in the total number of animals seized in 2017 to 54 as opposed to 25 in 2016. The number of offences prosecuted in 2017 is 46 whereas in 2016 it was 13.
“The PSNI will continue to work with our partners in DAERA and councils to ensure those responsible for animal cruelty are investigated accordingly.”
Notes to editors:
1. The statistics can be accessed on the DAERA website.
2. Animal welfare advice and guidance can be found on the DAERA website.
3. Public facing information about animal welfare advice and guidance can be found on the NI Direct website.
4. The Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 makes provision for the protection of vertebrate animals in Northern Ireland, for example:
- It specifies offences such as: the failure to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of an animal for which a person is responsible are met; and taking action, or failing to take action, that causes an animal to suffer unnecessarily.
- It sets out powers available to Inspectors, to ensure compliance with the Act, for example powers to carry out inspections.
- It enables Inspectors and Constables to take possession of an animal which is suffering or is likely to suffer.
- It provides that a person can be deprived of possession or ownership of an animal on conviction for certain specified offences.
5. Enforcement officers investigate complaints and take action to ensure the owner or keeper complies with legislation. The penalties for animal welfare convictions include fines, liability for costs, community service and disqualifications from keeping animals. If the case warrants it, custodial sentences can be imposed.
8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.